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Training as a photographer

Internships led to vocational training

Four years ago Yemen Akkad came to Germany from Aleppo in Syria. Since August 2018, the 24-year-old has been enrolled in a dual vocational training programme in his desired profession of photographer at the Picture People photo studio in Nuremberg.

Detail of a camera.

Training to be a photographer takes three years.


Six dogs are to be photographed. They all have to sit still on a couch. “That was difficult,” Yemen Akkad explains laughing. “The shooting lasted almost three hours and I took about 450 photos. At the end we found ten photos which were awesome.” The customer was happy - and so was he. Meanwhile he knows how to create a good atmosphere during the shooting. “On one occasion a three-year-old girl had no desire to be photographed at all, so I promised her that we would sprinkle confetti in the last photos if she would join in”. It worked.

Yemen Akkad

The photo studio in which Yemen Akkad has trained specialises in portrait photography for job applications, families, couples or even animals. The prospective photographer has meanwhile gained experience with all subjects. He independently takes care of backgrounds, props, lighting and camera angles. He also edits and prints pictures. Once a month he attends vocational school for one week covering subjects such as image design, recording technology and communication. “At school, for example, I learn about product photography and how to present myself through posture and appearance,” he says.

From Aleppo to Passau

Photographer is Yemen Akkad’s dream job. His parents run a photo studio in Aleppo where he once worked, however, he also studied biology at university. “There is no training or study programme to become a photographer in Syria, so I decided to study a different subject. A university degree gives you professional security,” he explains.

As the risk of being drafted into the Syrian army and going to war threatened, Yemen Akkad decided to leave the country. He crossed the Turkish border on foot in the spring of 2015. He worked in Turkey for three months, but saw no prospects for himself. Together with friends he made his way to Germany, crossing by boat to Greece, travelling by train, bus and on foot via Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria to Passau, where he reported to the police.

In Bavaria he was housed in various locations until he finally found an apartment in the Nuremberg area. It took a year for Yemen Akkad to obtain a residence permit. During this time he could not pursue any education or employment. “I used the time to learn German, for example with YouTube videos,” he remembers. After his residency was approved the Jobcenter arranged an integration course for him where he also obtained a B2 level German certificate.

Applying to companies in person

Another great help was a job placement service specialising in refugees. “The staff helped me to write a CV and applications,” explains Yemen Akkad. The two internships lasting several weeks, which he completed at a photo studio and a publishing house in Nuremberg, also came about through Ingeus. “I photographed products at the publishing house, but also accompanied the editors to external appointments,” he continues. He received good advice from his supervisor: “She said that I should introduce myself personally to vocational training companies because I have a congenial manner”. In this way he was able to convince Picture People immediately – and shortly thereafter he started his three-year vocational training.

Yemen Akkad wishes to successfully complete his training programme. Afterwards he can imagine working as an employee or freelance photographer. Design studies are also a possibility. “I was lucky in that I always met nice people who helped me. I feel integrated although I keep noticing that I tick differently than the Germans”.

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abi» 05.04.2019

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